Changing gears here away from offensive linemen to the top crop of CBs in this year's draft. There was some interesting discussion about whether or not the Steelers should draft a CB on Day 1 with the intention of letting Bryant McFadden walk at the end of the 2008 season. I think most of us agreed that we should not, but it's worth taking a look at some of the more coveted CBs in this year's draft..just in case.
Let's start with Leodis McKelvin, CB and return-man extraordinare, from Troy. McKelvin posted the 7th best 40 time at the Combine with his 4.38. An All-American his senior year, McKelvin registered 60 tackles, forced three fumbles, had two INTs, and broke up nine passes. Scouts say he isn't the best ball-hawk in the draft, but his overall skills as a CB are legit. His wiry frame should allow him to put on 5-10 pounds without compromising his stand-out quickness and speed, something that will be necessary as he adjusts to making plays in the running game in the far more physical and demanding professional game.
McKelvin's true value however, rests in his abilities as a punt and kickoff returner. His 8 total returns (7 punts, 1 kickoff) ties an NCAA record, and his total return yards of 3,817 snapped Deltha O'Neal's previous best mark of 3,455 yards.
On his NFL.com scouting report, McKelvin is compared to:
R.W. McQUARTERS-New York Giants...Like McQuarters, McKelvin is a solid return specialist, even though he does not always play to his timed speed. He needs some technique refinement, but due to a lack of natural power, he is never going to be a physical tackler. He shows willingness in run support, but is better making plays on the move than getting bounced around in tight quarters. Like McQuarters, he runs hot-and-cold with his ball-reaction skills, sometimes looking like Bambi staring down at the headlights of an oncoming truck. McKelvin has the ability to break a game open once he finds a crease on returns. Until he can prove that he can add strength, his immediate value will be on special teams.
Well there ya have it. With the team adding Mewelde Moore earlier in free agency, I don't see the urgency to add a high-profile returner, at least certainly not in the 1st or 2nd round. I don't think we're interested in a Day 1 pick that's still some what of a question mark in coverage either. If we were to go that high on a CB in the next two years, it'd probably be for a CB who's been battle tested in big-game atmospheres in college, not at Troy State where he was able to run circles around his competition on special teams, and mask some of his technique deficiencies with solid speed and agility. Or, even if he didn't play at a bigger name scool, I would think the Steelers would be more interested in a defensive back who could play both the safety and CB position in the pros at various points in his career. There certainly aren't many players that versatile out there, but there are a few, namely Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.